2 Years or 24 Months or 730 Days. That’s how long I have been traveling. And the two-year anniversary almost completely slipped my mind. You see, I always think of May 1, 2013 as the date I left Phoenix for the #GirlOnTheRun trek, but I honestly had already been traveling for four months before that day. Wonder how this all happened? Well, here is the short story… After 24 Months on the Road, I Guess I Had Something to Say About it.
In January of 2013 I was the President of a chapter of Women’s Circle Network in Phoenix. In our first meeting I asked everyone what their Hairy Scary Goal of 2013 was. Without hesitation I said I wanted to be a travel blogger and see the world. I never thought in a million years that this would happen. I hadn’t really traveled in over a decade except for a yearly vacation.
I said that goal out load and my heart fluttered just thinking about it.
And So It Began…
Three days later, the Universe answered me. BlogWorld/New Media Expo held in Las Vegas reached out to me with passes, then I received a Press Pass for CES. Two weeks in Vegas – I’m in! Then I answered a tweet by HootSuite that they were giving away VIP tickets to Affiliate Summit held the week after CES. Yep, I won them! I was in Vegas for a total of 14 days and for the first time saw every roof top bar, went on a plane ride around the city, and met some of the people I still call close friends.
I was only back in Phoenix a couple days when I received a call to cover Startup Grind in San Francisco. Everything was covered except for my plane ticket – could I make it? Yes!! That was the other goal I made that year – say YES to everything instead of my standard NO. I grabbed a ticket and off I went to San Francisco. That trip changed my life in many ways.
One of the things that happened was that I went running across The Golden Gate Bridge and had the epiphany to run half marathons across the US. I knew in that moment that I was no longer to live in Phoenix, but that my path was to leave and see what the world had in store for me.
In San Francisco, I made plans to head to Austin for SxSw in March which was just a few weeks away. After Austin, I flew back to San Francisco for a weekend and solidified my plans to take off for good.
Trying to plan an epic trip around the US takes longer than a few weeks to plan by the way. I had to sell an entire household, stuff from my flower shop (still) and tie up loose ends.
I remember packing up my car on May 1st, 2013, and being so damn scared of what I was about to do. I had even written down all of my fears as I had planned on tackling them, one by one.
I had the first two weeks completely planned out and then from there I would just wing it. I had races scheduled throughout the year, but nothing in between but the wide open road.
In 2013, I was on the #GirlOnTheRun trek for 202 days, traveled through 38 states, and ran in 10 half marathons. I tore my Achilles Tendon and Rotator Cuff on Day 19 in Portland. 2013 saw a lot of heartbreak, physical and emotional pain, and some of the lowest lows of my life.
BUT it also gave me SO much more. I learned who I was again. I learned that I have an intuition that is not to be ignored. I learned that I am stronger than I have ever give myself credit for. I learned that people are watching my every move and rally behind me. I let go of the haters. I used to care so damn much what people thought of me. But now? Yeah, not so much.
I also learned that we look at life all wrong. We are taught to accumulate wealth and property and then one day when we are older, go out and live and travel. I would rather live now. Today. Not tomorrow. And I am doing just that.
One of the biggest gifts that trip gave me was finally learning to let go. When you struggle everyday with finding a place to stay, a safe place to eat, and basic survival necessities, other worries pale in comparison. It was a mind shift. My stresses dealt with keeping me alive.
I found listening to people complain about their lives without doing anything about it difficult. If you didn’t like your world, change your world. Only you can change the direction of your life. That was a hard lesson for me to learn, it to years, but I finally understood it.
2014 and Alaska
I went home to Phoenix for Thanksgiving 2013 and stayed for 6 weeks. In January 2014, I went back to Vegas for 2 weeks for conferences and then headed to San Francisco for the Travel and Adventure Show. While driving to SF, I passed 3 Alaska license plates and a billboard for Alaskan Airlines. The first people I met at that show were from Alaska. As a big believer in signs, I knew I was supposed to go to Alaska.
I was in San Francisco for an entire month then I went to Los Angeles for a bit. I had planned on living in San Francisco and was on my way back to the bay when I got stuck, so to speak, near Ventura. I couldn’t drive another minute and I pulled over and looked out over the ocean and just started crying. I felt lost. So incredibly lost. I had to make some major decisions and I just couldn’t drive another moment. Major life altering decision making is still very hard for me – every decision I make on the road impacts me greatly. It is hard to explain, honestly. There are very few do-overs.
I called up my Dad and asked if I could go to our beach house in Mexico by myself for a week or two. He was less than pleased, but said yes. I needed time to sit still, to breathe, to not be on the move.
I turned my car around and headed for Phoenix. I wanted to write my book and I could do it in either San Francisco or Mexico. I had just been given some less than stellar news regarding a situation in SF and I needed some space. I packed up what I would need for two weeks in Mexico and off I went to live without WiFi or electricity (we have solar energy) on the beach.
It took me two days to relax and let the beach sink into my soul. Then I started to write. And write. And write. On the beach while watching the birds overhead and the dolphins go by, I wrote Unstoppable: Girl On The Run.
As I was down in Mexico, my friends and clients started to ping me about SxSw in Austin. I decided to go and then come back to Mexico. A short time to change and do laundry in Phoenix and then I was on the road to Austin, Texas. It was a seriously awesome trip!!
While I was there though, all I could think about was going back to Mexico. I wanted to finish editing the book and have it ready to go before my 40th Birthday on April 5th. So I went back for another week. It was utterly amazing. I loved the solitude.
I had a great 40th birthday with friends and family in Phoenix! I had finished planning my trek to Alaska and left Arizona on April 10, 2014. The trip was roughly 4,000 miles, going over some of the most treacherous roads in the country and Canada. I was scared, excited, and couldn’t wait!
I went to San Francisco as my friends had another birthday shindig planned for me. I spent another month in SF enjoying every minute. San Francisco is another love of mine. I love the city, but I love the coast and wine country even more! On the day before I left the city I met a friend for a drink downtown. I had my whole car packed up as I was ready to get on the road.
My car got broken into and my backpack was stolen in the 45 minutes it was parked in the garage. In that backpack was roughly $6,000 worth of tech and gear, including my brand new laptop. I thought my manuscript was backed up on my external hard drive. Thankfully, the hard drive had fallen out of my backpack and was on my passenger floorboard. Sadly though, the manuscript errored out when saving and my book was gone. GONE. Every word. Poof. Like I had never written it.
I couldn’t stop the tears from flowing. Every day. For six weeks. I was in a deep dark depression. My trip to Alaska was pushed back by a week as I had to replace all of that tech or I would have to cancel the whole thing. I was grateful that I had a friend who loaned me a Macbook Air. Microsoft sent me a Surface 2 and GoPro replaced my Hero 3. Yes, I was very very grateful. But I could not shake the sheer depression I was in.
I left San Francisco and continued up the coast through Oregon, Washington, and Canada. I met new people, stayed with friends, and tried to stop crying.
On 5/30/14 I drove into Hyder, Alaska and knew that I could do anything I set my heart to. On 6/4/14 I made it to Anchorage and then onto Seward to see my friends with Exit Glacier Guides.
I spent a week in each area traveling throughout Alaska and fell more in love with the Last Frontier everyday. I couldn’t get enough of the glaciers, the wildlife, and the simpler way of life. Alaska touched my soul. I felt at home.
I had never really seen snow before so decided to spend the winter in Alaska to see firsthand what this thing called Winter was. I rented a room in a cabin in Eagle River, which is a suburb of Anchorage. Sadly, that living situation didn’t turn out the way I had hoped and I moved out on Christmas Eve.
So yes, I have been traveling full-time for 24 months now, and here are the major breakdowns of where I have been the last 2 years:
Alaska: 6 months
San Francisco: 4 months
Arizona: 3 months
New York: 2 months
Las Vegas: 5 weeks
I have learned a lot about myself these last two years. I let go of some baggage, picked up some new pieces, and realized I am letting the person I have always been finally out for everyone to see. I am a serious romantic soul that just wants to be loved and accepted. But until I could love and accept myself, how could I ask anyone else to do the same?
Where I Am Today
I am writing today from San Francisco and I am at another crossroads. Do I move to San Francisco and settle here with my friends and have a successful writing career for major publications? Or do I stay longer in Alaska and continue writing for myself and other bloggers? Or do I keep traveling full-time without a home base?
I will tell you, I need a home base. I need a home again. Need, not want. Very big distinction. I don’t want to stop traveling, just need a pause in between each trip. If I leave Alaska, that just means I won’t live there, that doesn’t mean I won’t go back for a month or two at a time.
Business opportunities are popping up everywhere in SF. My friends are in SF. Part of my heart is here too. But there aren’t any glaciers here. Or Bald Eagles. Or Beluga Whales. Or my friends in Alaska. I feel like my heart is being torn in two. This is when I wish money were not an issue and I had a house in both places – problem solved! But alas, I might be a dreamer, but I am also a realist.
So tell me… what would you choose?
I think if it were me, I would go with SF. It sounds like you may have more security there with friends and maybe a steady job. I wish I could also just travel around. I think it would be fun to explore the country.
Felicita Moncada says
Thank you for sharing your journey. The wonderful thing about life is that you can change it at any time. Don’t like something – change it. With that being said Alaska is beautiful but it sounds like SF is special to you in more ways than one. A place where your friends are, has good networking for your career, and has always been a place you’ve loved.
Alaska can always be visited but the networking may be limited? Seems the friends in SF have been around for longer thus can offer you better support. Just thinking out loud here.
But best of luck in whatever decision you make! I’ll be sure to read along and see what you pick!